A retired nurse from Washington spent five days trapped in a wrecked car at the bottom of a ravine, where she drank rainwater to stay hydrated and prayed for deliverance.
Lynnell McFarland, 68, of Spokane Valley, was driving home from a relative’s memorial service on November 18 when her car skid on black ice, overturned and landed in a ditch a few feet away from Highway 97 near Blewett Pass.
The impact fractured McFarland’s arm and knee and sent her flying into the back of the vehicle after breaking her seat belt.
McFarland explained that she had previously left her cell phone, winter boots, and water bottle on the floor, but it was all out of reach due to her injuries and upside-down position.
The woman’s daughter, Amanda McFarland, reported her mother was missing the next day after hearing from neighbors that she never came home and could not be reached by phone.
Lynnel McFarland said later that day she spotted a police officer and hunters in the area, but they didn’t see her car through the trees or hear her desperate cries for help.
‘Mom had remained alert and aware for almost five days,’ her son, J James McFarland, wrote in the description of a GoFundMe campaign. ‘The sound of the creek beside her kept her calm, and she listened to the heavy traffic on the nearby road. She had been praying and watching a woodpecker who stayed near her during that time.’
Over time, the injured nurse used her medical training to bandage her wounds and made a shelter in the backseat with clothing, blankets, and plastic bags to keep warm from the heat.
‘She understood the extent of her wounds,’ Amanda McFarland said earlier this month. ‘She understood how long her body could survive. And she understood what she needed to do to keep her body warm.’
On the fifth day of his heartbreaking ordeal. McFarland said she felt tired but could feel the arms of her late parents around her, and she sent a prayer.
‘I just said, “Dear God, I know I’m going to die someday, but please don’t let it be in this dark, deep ravine, where I’m never found,”‘
30 minutes later, a team from the state Department of Transportation discovered her vehicle.
Chelan County first responders found McFarland injured but conscious and showing signs of hypothermia, and they pulled her out of her sedan. Amanda McFarland was there as rescuers worked to free her mother from the car.
She said she could hear her daughter crying and called out that she was fine.
The retired nurse said she was very thirsty and drank three bottles of ice water as soon as she arrived at Wenatchee Hospital.
After three surgeries and weeks of treatment, the 68-year-old survived and was discharged in time to spend Christmas Day with his daughter.